Why Bush needs to win the PR war against Iraq
By: Rachel Marsden
US President George W. Bush is all set for a big "Saddam-b-que" that would see the Iraqi leader and his murderous, dictatorial regime tossed out and replaced with a democratic government. Bush has sent out invitations to his friends and allies around the world, but his military shindig could end up being a big bust if he isn't careful.
Bush may enjoy the support of the majority of Americans in an attack on Iraq, but his allies need more convincing. Canada, Britain, Germany, Italy and Jordan want more proof that now is the time to take out Saddam. For Gerhard Schroeder of Germany and Tony Blair of the UK, the issue is tightly tied to their political future as the vast majority of British and German voters are dead-set against a war in Iraq. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is unwilling to commit more Canadian troops to yet another US-led war if the issue of UN weapons inspection is the only justification for action. Sergey Ordzhonikidze, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, has warned Bush that an attack on Iraq will lead to the collapse of the anti-terrorist coalition.
None of these leaders should really need any more proof that it's high time to get rid of Saddam Hussein for good. We only need to look at how the Clinton administration dilly-dallied around for years with Osama bin Laden while he was running around bombing US ships and embassies to see fault in the "just one more strike before we finally wake up" approach.
Hussein's rap-sheet should be justification enough to take this guy out without any further ado. He has started two wars, gassed the Kurds, fired Scud missiles at Israeli civilians, killed and tortured thousands of his own people, and have made living conditions in his country intolerable. He has former Soviet weapons inspectors on the Iraqi payroll, and has been developing chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons ever since he barred UN weapons inspectors in 1998. According to Czeck intelligence, one of Hussein's top spies met with 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta in Prague only a few months before the attack on America. Hussein has repeatedly declared and demonstrated that he hates Westerners, Jews, Kurds, and just about everyone else. What evidence is there to possibly suggest that this is a man who would NOT unload weapons of mass destruction on al-Qaeda terrorists for a pretty penny, or even just for the sheer joy of it?
But the bottom line is that the US needs the full support of its allies, and it has some major optics to address before it can effectively deal with Saddam. Last week, the US rejected an offer to allow UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, to continue technical talks in Baghdad. Big mistake. The US needs to prove to the world that it has given Hussein every possible chance for redemption before it launches a full-scale military strike; however, this doesn't mean that Iraq should be permitted to call the shots.
The US and the UN need to stand by their post-Gulf War policy and insist that Hussein allow immediate and unrestricted access to weapons inspectors, and submit to complete disarmament if any weapons of mass destruction are discovered. It should be made clear to the international community that this is Hussein's last chance to comply, and that anything short of his full cooperation will result in swift military action. This would put the world on notice.
If the US gives Hussein enough rope, he'll likely hang himself. He has a track record of reneging on his promises. He agreed to the implementation of no-fly zones to protect the Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south as a condition of ending the Persian Gulf War. The UN granted the US and Britain authority to enforce the zones; however, in 1998 Hussein unilaterally conjured up a policy by which the no-fly patrols could be shot at from the ground. Another condition to which Hussein agreed at the end of the Gulf War was to allow for weapons inspectors in the region; however, in 1998 he again went back on his obligations.
The US must be patient for a little while longer. It should use this time to launch a public relations campaign designed to convince its allies, beyond any doubt, that Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction pose a clear and present danger to the international community. He needs to connect the dots between Hussein's weapons program and al-Qaeda terrorists hell-bend on the destruction of the West. The sooner Bush can prove that diplomacy has failed, the sooner he can attack with the backing of his allies. After all, former party boy "Dubya" should know better than anyone that it's no fun to throw a party to which none of your friends show up.